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Three to trial controversial network-level ad blocking next month

UK MOBILE OPERATOR Three has announced that it will trial its controversial network-level ad blocking next month.

For 24 hours in June, Three will let users participate in a trial of the ad-blocking technology, which it first announced plans to roll out back in February. 

Three will contact users to ask them whether they want to take part in the trial, and point those who do to a registration page on its website. The 24-hour ad blocking frenzy is set to happen in the week of 13 June.

The network-level ad blocking, which has caused concern among webmasters and digital publishers, is part of Three’s plan to “give customers more control, choice and greater transparency over what they receive”.

However, the greater use of ad-blockers has affected content providers’ business models as valuable ad revenue is lost.

The INQUIRER has previously written articles exploring possible funding models for the web, but advertising remains the primary source of income for most websites.

Three UK chief marketing officer Tom Malleschitz explained that a network-based ad blocker is more effective than apps, which are already banned from some app stores.

He added that the move is designed to protect customers from unnecessary data charges caused by receiving irrelevant adverts, and to avoid possible phishing and malware attacks through adverts. It also offers an experience that is not “degraded by excessive, intrusive, unwanted or irrelevant ads”.

Three said back in February that it doesn’t want ads to be blocked altogether and is working with advertisers on providing more relevant, targeted advertising that minimises data use and waste.

More and more companies are being forced to retaliate with ad blocking countermeasures. Channel 4’s All4 on-demand service, for example, will not play video with an ad blocker in place.

But the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has warned that Three’s move could spell the end for free internet content.

Alex Kozloff, the IAB’s acting marketing director, said in a statement: “The IAB believes that an ad-funded internet is essential in providing revenue to publishers so they can continue to make their content, services and applications widely available at little or no cost.

“We believe ad blocking undermines this approach and could mean consumers have to pay for content they currently get for free.”

Existing ad-blocking software has gradually made ‘whitelisting’ more common as agreements are made to allow adverts that meet certain criteria. µ

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